Is Google CEO’s comment a threat or a whine?
The EU has levied the latest fine on Google for anti-competitive practices on the Android platform. By no means is this the first, and it’s probably not the last. But the size of this one is certainly eye opening.
Google has been coming under fire for anti-competitive practices for years now. By demanding that phone manufacturers install Google’s various services on their devices, and not competitors services, in order to utilize the Google Play Store, Google has many questioning just how open the platform it really is. Of course, Google offers it’s version of Android for free, but many think that by disallowing competitive products to be pre-installed, that Google is breaking antitrust rules. In this latest case, the E.U. has found that Google has.
Fining companies like Google and Apple and Facebook generally has very little effect. Thousands, and even hundreds of thousands really doesn’t matter much to a company that makes billions. Even as the fines build up, they rarely have any influence on the day to day activities. In this case, the E.U. has fined Google $5.05 billion. And this seems to be an amount that has grabbed Google’s attention. At least it grabbed the attention of Google CEO CEO Sundar Pichai.
“So far, the Android business model has meant that we haven’t had to charge phone makers for our technology,” said Pichai in a statement. “But we are concerned that today’s decision will upset the careful balance that we have struck with Android, and that it sends a troubling signal in favor of proprietary systems over open platforms.”
How very Apple of you Sundar.
I would suggest a different road to success. I would suggest creating a competitive product. We know that the company has the talent and the money to do just that, and do it fairly regularly. There are numerous applications and services provided by Google that simply can’t be beat. There are also other applications and services that are horrible, and would probably be skipped over by users if it wasn’t already pre-installed on devices. I’m looking at you Google Play Music. Seriously, Google Play Music may just be the worst implemented application I have ever used. Mr. Pichai, if we wanted iTunes, we’d use an iPhone. We don’t, so how about making a decent product. How about making a product that could grab users even if it wasn’t pre-installed as the default music player on our devices?
Google chose to make their version of Android an open platform, and then did not treat it as an open platform. The defense that users can delete their applications from devices and replace with other products doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction in the world’s courts. Why would Google fight the cases? Why not simply allow competing products pre-installed, or allow manufacturers not to install Google applications. I believe the answer is clear. Because Google knows that many users will never replace those apps. Many will continue to use what comes out of the box. And they know, that many of their revenue streams would not hold up to true competition.
Please Google, instead of fighting over fines and fighting over what must be or not be installed on phones, simply make a great product. You have the talent, the money, and the ability to do so. If you really want to see the mobile market explode with innovation, instead of stagnate, this will be the route you take.